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These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the August 11, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
Merrill Lynch’s conference center on Scudders Mill Road, part of Princeton University’s Forrestal campus, has just been purchased for a reported price of more than $30 million by a Connecticut-based private investment group. One of the individuals in the group (900 Scudders Mill Road LLC) is none other than Scott Toombs, who had had a less than ideal experience with real estate at the Forrestal Center.
In 1987, shortly after Merrill Lynch built the conference center, Toombs opened the first iteration of Princeton Forrestal Village on the other side of Route 1, complete with upscale shops with Fifth Avenue labels. That version of the Village famously failed and was taken over by the bank. Toombs, now 70, show sufficient confidence in the Forrestal campus to make another investment here.
The conference center has always had unrealized potential. It was purpose-built in 1986 to serve Merrill Lynch, and with 452,000 square feet it has 342 rooms plus all the bells and whistles to attract training programs.
But its current layout – directly connected to Merrill Lynch offices – presents a security hazard and an image problem. When the Princeton Chamber had its showcase there two years ago, for instance, guards had to be posted at the exits to be sure guests didn’t stray into Merrill Lynch’s secure area. And since it is on Merrill Lynch’s campus, outsiders sometimes had trouble finding it.
That confusion will change, says Bruce R. Smith, managing and regional director of the re-named Harrison Conference Center & Hotel. A Cornell graduate, Class of 1975, his father worked for Union Carbide in New York City, and he is married and has three daughters, one a teenager. Before joining Aramark Harrison Lodging, Smith had a 24-year career with Marriott Corporation and has been general manager of four facilities, including two resorts.
"The bulk of our traffic comes into the main entrance to the facility, and we will do some landscaping to give it better visibility. Then we will have signage right at the curb and signage down the drive path. On the 800 path we will put up a whole new monument sign," says Smith.
"We will be open to more of the weekend, social, and association business that Merrill Lynch preferred not to have," says Smith. He hopes to book weddings for more than 200 people and will also be able to accommodate wedding guests at the separate 62-room executive center. The price? Equivalent to a four-star hotel. "Maybe three star on weekends," says Smith.
A national downturn in conference business prompted Merrill Lynch to follow other corporations that are selling their on-campus centers. Adding the leisure, social, and trade group business can only help the center’s occupancy rates. Smith says his center is right in line with other conference centers, with occupancy rates "under 50 percent."
Smith ticks off the amenities: Sauna, steam room, full lap pool, fitness center that is four times the size of a hotel facility, racquetball courts, indoor basketball, softball field, and tennis courts. The theater-style auditorium seats 380 to 400, and it is equipped with touch pads and microphones for each seat.
The 37,000-square-foot facility includes three floors of offices. When 20,000 square feet of office space are converted, that will add 25 meeting rooms to the facility. The conference center will have one common entrance with Merrill Lynch and a separate entrance and parking lot on the auditorium side of the center. A covered walkway connects the two parts.
"We have great technology, and a great rapport with Merrill Lynch," says Smith. "They will continue to be our strongest client. We’re very excited. With the economy turning and the market growing we are positioned to be very successful."
Paul V. Pisarz is the new general manager of the Hyatt Regency at the Carnegie Center. He replaces Heinz Gartlgruber, who was in charge when major renovations were taking place.
Pisarz was born in Ambelside, England, and raised in Westchester County, New York. He majored in business administration at Western Carolina University in North Carolina. He has had a 20-year career with Hyatt Hotels, most recently as general manager of the Park Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C.
He also directed sales and marketing for 26 hotels in the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, and held senior level jobs at the positions in sales and marketing at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and for the Middle East division of Inter-Continental Hotels in Athens, Greece.
The luxury hotel has 348 rooms, 14 suites, and 20 meeting rooms, plus a full swimming pool, athletic facilities, the Crystal Garden restaurant, and the Catch a Rising Star comedy club.
In July Hersha Hospitality Trust (HT) bought the 130-room Courtyard by Marriott in Ewing. Simultaneously it bought the Residence Inn by Marriott-Greenbelt in Maryland, near Washington, D.C. It manages both properties.
The Courtyard by Marriott Ewing Hopewell, which opened in March, is the first of Marriott’s new prototype for Courtyard in New Jersey. It features redesigned guest rooms and public spaces, a 24-7 food market, a business library with workstations equipped with high-speed data ports and ergonomic chairs, an indoor pool and whirlpool, an exercise room, and a cafe. Every guest room has free high-speed in-room Internet access, as well as wireless Internet access in the lobby and public spaces.
Hersha Hospitality Trust, a self-advised real estate investment trust, is making the purchase as a joint venture with American Properties Realty, a privately held, full-service, residential and commercial real estate development firm in New Jersey.
King Pharmaceuticals, based in Bristol, Tennessee, has moved its 24-person marketing office to the fifth floor of the Merrill Lynch building at 7 Roszel Road.
Last month King struck a $4 billion deal to be acquired by Mylan Laboratories (MYL), a generic drug maker based in Pittsburgh, and the deal should be completed by the end of this year. If the deal goes through, the combined firms could have $3 billion in revenues and 6,000 employees. The deal is worth $16.66 per share of Mylan stock; Merrill Lynch advised Mylan and Goldman Sachs was the advisor to King. Current King shareholders could end up with about 44 percent of the outstanding common shares of Mylan.
King is undergoing a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of its pricing of drugs for government programs such as Medicaid. King’s CEO and chairman (Jefferson J. Gregory) and president (Kyle P. Macione) resigned this year.
King develops, manufactures, markets, and sells branded prescription pharmaceutical products. Among its pharmaceuticals is Altace, a cardiovascular and hypertension product that had sales of $450 million for the last fiscal year. King’s sales force could help market nebivolol, the branded hypertension drug from Mylan Bertek Pharmaceuticals, a Mylan subsidiary, that has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"This is a perfect fit with Mylan, the largest U.S. producer of generic pharmaceuticals with its own growing pipeline of proprietary products, most notably nebivolol. The opportunity to launch nebivolol will significantly expand the existing cardiovascular franchise," said Brian A. Markison, CEO of King Pharmaceuticals, in a release.
Two of the six companies recently approved for Springboard Fund II financing are from the Princeton area – Automated Threat Detection Inc. and MGP Biotech. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority received 36 entries for this round and gave six grants totaling $1.35 million. It will choose the next recipients in September.
Automated Threat Detection, Inc., the third company that John Romanowich has started, received $250,000 to design, manufacture, and market a new line of surveillance systems called AlertCam for securing large outdoor areas and perimeters.
In contrast to his two previous firms, Romanowich says that this one has a formal corporate structure and other outside investors, who include some seasoned entrepreneurs. In June the company closed its first round financing and moved to Princeton University’s Forrestal campus.
One of his previous businesses, Synthesis Electronics, specialized in the design and cost-reduction of controllers for embedded systems like cameras and heating units. For his other business, Home Animation, he designed and planned home electronics systems.
Romanowich says he majored in computer electronics at NJIT, Class of 1987, because he could see it was a good field for starting his own business. He earned his master’s in optical electronics at NJIT and his thesis project was an infrared camera that he developed under the supervision of a Sarnoff researcher. He worked on video inspection systems at IBM and then started his consulting business. Later in Princeton he worked for such firms as Intel, Samsung, Sarnoff Real Time and Pyramid Vision Technologies.
Another grant recipient, MGP Biotech, which represents the initials of entrepreneur Michael Pappas, has transient hybridization technology to detect mutations in human and animal DNA.
"It is a rapid diagnostic, a fantastic easy-to-use facile technology that will allow us to detect genetic diseases as well as biological terror agents," says Pappas, "a whole new way of doing diagnostic, genomic, and genetic testing."
He and his partner, whom he declined to name other than that he is a former co-worker, have submitted patent applications for the technology. They plan to open a small laboratory and are looking for space.
Pappas grew up in the Boston area, where his mother was a school teacher and his father a vendor. He had an ROTC scholarship to Northeastern University in Boston, Class of 1974, earned his master’s at the University of Lowell in Massachusetts, and his PhD at NYU in immuno parasitology and immuno diagnostics. His Army service was at Walter Reed Hospital, where he developed rapid diagnostic technologies for diseases of military significance.
Formerly employed at PharmaSeq at Princeton Corporate Plaza, he wrote a book on how to get Small Business Innovation Research Grants, and he just came out with the second edition of the Biotech Entrepreneurs Glossary. He also wrote the first handbook on biotech business development. He is married and has three children, ages 21, 15, and 12.
Pappas explains that his technology temporarily binds DNA probes to pathogen sequences or specific genetic sequences related to genetic diseases. "On the average, everyone has four defective genes in their body. Those who live a very long time have zero or one. Those who die earlier have five, six, or seven."
In July the Philadelphia-based law firm expanded its Princeton office with a move from the Carnegie Center to the Forrestal Center. This 20-attorney office focuses on litigation, environmental, labor, and corporate law.
CUH2A is designing biosafe research and storage facilities in Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Uzbekistan. To be monitored internationally by top scientists, these labs will be part of an international network of four laboratories set up to spot dangerous disease outbreaks, says Kenneth Drake (NJIT, Class of 1980), project director. Forty people on Lenox Drive and 20 people in CUH2A’s London office will work on the project, directed by Drake.
Not only will these labs collect the dangerous pathogens, but they will also provide employment for the thousands of Soviet scientists who had been working on bioweapons and will provide an opportunity to share research. The target date for the labs to be built and outfitted in September, 2007. Bechtel National Inc. of McLean, Virginia, is coordinating the project for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Orchid Cellmark has a contract from the National Institute of Justice to create genetic profiles from DNA samples collected from Illinois felons. The profiles will be added to the national Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mark Stolorow is executive director of Orchid Cellmark, the forensic DNA testing subsidiary of Orchid BioSciences Inc., which has laboratories in Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas.
The parent company, Orchid BioSciences, announced a smaller second-quarter loss, thanks in part to more attention to high growth areas such as Orchid Cellmark. For the quarter, the loss was 10 cents per share compared to 90 cents per share in the corresponding period of last year.
In July Princeton Lightwave landed an Air Force contract worth more than $1 million to develop a next-generation laser technology for use in sensors and communications systems. The two-year contract is supposed to produce a powerful laser that is not damaging to human eyes.
Founded in 2000, Princeton Lightwave markets and develops of high performance optoelectronic components and subsystems
Having sold off parts of its business, Rhodia has less need for space and may move from its Cranbury headquarters. No decision has been made, but the site has been put up for sale. Officials say the company might stay and lease a smaller amount of space from the new owners.
"Once the divestitures are completed, the Cranbury site will be too big for our smaller operations, and it’s time to evaluate our options," says Myron Galuskin, president of North American operations. "Some of our options may be determined by the real estate market’s interest in the property."
The 83-acre site, purchased in 1990, has 14 buildings with 350,000 square feet.
Shortly after this year’s Comdex trade show was canceled, the Cebit America show was canceled for this year by its sponsor, Carnegie Center-based Hannover Fairs USA. "This is the correct business decision," Joachim Schafer, president, said in a statement. "Cebit America is a terrific event but it has not generated enough revenue to justify a third year. The decision is a reflection of a changing high-tech industry as well as the U.S. economy."
The company’s flagship event in Hanover, Germany is the world’s largest IT trade show, and it will continue, as will international Cebit events in Shanghai, Sydney, and Istanbul.
From now through September 3, Plainsboro Road will be closed between Fox Run Drive and Schalks Crossing Road, and it will permit only local traffic between Fox Run and Enterprise Drive. Dey Road will permit local traffic only between Scudders Mill and Plainsboro roads. Edgemere Avenue will be open only to local traffic between Parkway Avenue and Plainsboro Roads. Sewer lines are being installed.
Jonathan Nyce, the former biotech CEO accused of murdering his wife, has been released on $750,000 bail and is confined to his parents’ home in western Pennsylvnia. He will be able to have supervised visits with his children, ages 12, 10, and 6, who are living nearby with his brother and sister-in-law. He is wearing an electronic tracking device
Nyce’s attorney, Robin Lord, got his bail reduced from $1.7 million and will argue that Nyce’s statement to police should not be used as evidence against him. Police say Nyce confessed to beating his wife, Michelle, to death on January 16.
Nyce was the subject of a U.S. 1 cover story, "Flipping Off the Asthma Switch," on March 17, 1999. The founder and former CEO of EpiGenesis Pharmaceuticals Inc. at Cedar Brook Corporate Center, he planned to use antisense therapies to disable harmful genes and make the treatment of respiratory diseases as easy as flipping a genetic switch.
Alexander J. Bordash, 52, on July 28. He was a senior technical analyst for Princeton Financial Services.
Tristam B. Johnson, 84, on July 31. A stockbroker, he worked most recently at Paine Webber, and he helped found the Swan Foundation at the National Museum of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing State Park.
Christina Laurente, 33, on August 2 when a van crossed lanes and crashed into her car. The mother of two preschool children, she was an attorney at Fox, Rothschild LLP on Lenox Drive.
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